Head worker jailed for stealing from Shropshire charity

A former head of a Shropshire charity has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for stealing thousands of pounds from a charity, causing it to collapse.

Louise Stokes, 40, of Park Road, Whitchurch, previously pleaded guilty to stealing more than £19,000 from North Shropshire Voluntary Action.

It employed two other people and helped community groups and volunteers before it went into administration in 2009.

The single mother committed fraud to support her children, the court heard.

She was sentenced at Shrewsbury Crown Court on Thursday.

Family separation

Robert Edwards, prosecuting, said Stokes had electronically transferred the money into her own account while she was working as the charity's chief officer.

Her defence said she had been depressed at the time.

Defending Stokes, Andrew Holland said: "The situation arose as a result of having to bring up her family single-handedly.

"The whole offending has taken place to support her children. She is debt-ridden, she was left in a very difficult situation by her partner and she wanted to do the best for her children."

She committed the fraud between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008, and April 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009.

Mr Holland said during that time she had tried to make up for the fraud by taking less than she was entitled to in her salary and had paid back a large amount of the money she took, by the time the theft was discovered in the summer of 2009.

All of the trustees are being investigated as a result of the fraud.

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